AT&T Gives You The Runaround Over Your Military Discount

Reader Richard is in the Air Force. When he signed up with AT&T in January 2007 he was offered a military discount. Now it’s more than a year later and he’s still getting the runaround over this discount.

Now he’s launched an EECB on AT&T and has CC’d us so we can listen in.

Mr. Stephenson,

I am having a problem getting a customer service issue resolved. I feel that I have exhausted all means of escalation through normal call center and customer service representative channels. Please understand that I know you are busy, but I feel I have been wronged by your company.

January 5 2007 I graduated Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The 6th of January is when I signed my contract with Cingular (now AT&T) with the promise of a 19% military discount. I had never started my own cell phone service before so I figured that the representative at the store would set everything up for me.

I was wrong. The associate told me that it would take 2-3 billing cycles to apply and would be retroactive until January when the account was activated. I called AT&T customer service in March and asked why the discount had not been applied to my account. The representative said that there was no mention of the discount anywhere in my profile. I asked what measures would need to be taken on my part to get the discount applied. He said I would need to supply him with a Foundation Account Number (FAN) and he could apply the discount back to January and credit me the difference. I went to the Air Force admin people and they said they had never heard of a FAN nor could they supply me with one. I called again and was told that in the event that a FAN could not be provided I would need an active military e-mail address that ended in .mil. I informed the CSR that I was in technical training until August and would not have an e-mail account set up until September. He told me that whenever I got the account set up I could call back and get the discount set up to be retroactive until January. I thanked the CSR and ended the conversation as a very happy customer.

In September I arrived at my next duty station and got my e-mail set up, I called again. They sent an email to my .mil account. I followed the links in the e-mail and was under the impression that the discount would be applied.

I called again in November and asked why the discount had still not been applied. The CSR said there was no record of a military discount applied but would be happy to resend the e-mail and set up the discount. I asked if it would be retroactive until January and she said that the discount can only go back three months. I calmly asked to speak to a supervisor. I was not angry with that particular CSR because, as far as she and I were concerned, she did her job. After waiting on hold for exactly 8 minutes and 44 seconds( I timed it), I was connected with a supervisor. I calmly explained my situation and asked for the discount to be applied from January to the current billing cycle.

She said two things:

1.) There was no mention of a military discount on my profile at all until now, and 2.) the discount could only be applied a maximum of three months at the supervisor’s discretion.

I was appalled and outraged. I offered to forward her the email I had received in September and she said she would investigate the account further. After holding for another 9 minutes and 8 seconds( again I timed it), she reappeared. She said that there was only a mention of the discount in March and later in September and that there was no mention of making it retroactive until January. I told her that previous representatives happily told me that there would be no problem applying the discount until January to which she replied that they may have been lying. I asked if it could be applied since March since that was the first time it had been mentioned in their notes. She again said no, it could only go back three months, if the supervisor deemed it appropriate. I later sent e-mails to customer service asking for the same thing and was denied yet again.

Sir, all that I am asking for is for the discount to be applied to my account and made retroactive to the time te account was established. Due to either the ineptitude (or laziness, it is hard to be sure) of the employee who set up my account last year, I have paid at least $200 in the course of a year than I was originally lead to believe. As I understand the account extension that I signed in the middle of this month, I have thirty days to cancel. If this issue is unable to be resolved, then I regret to say that I will be forced to take my business to a company that appreciates both my service to our country as well as my patronage. I will take with me my wife’s account and my mother’s account. This will result in a loss of at least $240 for just one months service.

Please feel free to E-mail or call me with any resolution to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.


Yikes. Any other members of the military out there getting this sort of runaround from AT&T?